Your Doctor’s Failure to Diagnose Your Pneumonia Could Be Malpractice
Pneumonia is a lung condition that is often caused by an infection and results in the inflammation of the lungs. It is highly treatable—especially if it is promptly diagnosed. However it can result in serious complications or death if treatment does not begin promptly. Young children, the elderly, and people with other health conditions are especially at risk of developing serious additional problems if their pneumonia is left unchecked.
How Should a Doctor Diagnose Pneumonia?
The most common symptoms of pneumonia a patient could experience are fever, chills, and a cough. He may also feel unusually tired and experience pain in his muscles or chest. A doctor should use the following to properly diagnose pneumonia:
- Physical exam that includes listening to the person’s lungs
- Chest X-rays
- Blood test to check the white blood count and for bacteria or viruses that could have caused the pneumonia
How Is Pneumonia Misdiagnosed?
A doctor can misread the chest X-ray or blood test results, leading him to misdiagnose the person’s condition and prescribe the wrong medications. This is one way a doctor could commit medical malpractice. If he did not even order these tests, he could have failed to follow standard of medical care—also amounting to malpractice.
In addition, he could confuse the person’s symptoms with another similar condition. Common medical conditions that he could mistakenly diagnose instead of pneumonia include:
- Influenza (flu). A person with the flu will often have a cough, chills, and sometimes a fever. He could also experience a headache, muscle pains, and fatigue. However, a person who has the flu usually also has a runny nose and a sore throat.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). While people suffering with COPD and pneumonia can both experience chest pains, the other symptoms of COPD are different from pneumonia. They include shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing. If a person is a smoker, a doctor can easily misdiagnose pneumonia for COPD.
- Acute bronchitis. This condition is the sudden inflammation of the lung’s airways and is easily confused with pneumonia because it shares the symptoms like a fever, cough, fatigue, and chest pains. It is critical that a doctor perform a blood test and chest X-ray to make the right diagnosis.
If your doctor misdiagnosed your pneumonia, I urge you to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to not miss the statute of limitations to sue for the compensation you could be entitled to. Call me at 888.716.8021 to schedule a FREE consultation to learn how I can help you.